Please, Please, Always Think of the Bees!
Honeybees are in decline. Researchers have established that there are many reasons, and that this is a complex problem, but some of the main causes are deadly pesticides, mites and parasites, and stress from being transported around the country to vast commercial pollination events like pollinating the almond crop in February of each year. Many bees are starving due to lack of habitat.
Humanity seems to be growing more aware of the importance of bees and other pollinators for the survival of us all. Every third bite of food we eat is thanks to pollinators, and all pollinators contribute to our wellbeing. Bees are without question the superstars and over-achievers, and are responsible for the lion’s share, or about 90%, of pollinated food crops.
We must do everything we can to support both honeybees and native bees. Their survival may not ensure our survival, but it will ensure sufficient agricultural crops are being grown for us to harvest.
This 4:34-minute video by Garden Gate Magazine looks at how to attract beneficial native bees to your garden:
The best way to help all bees is to create bee habitat whenever and wherever you can. Your plant selection contributes to habitat and is the single most important thing you can do to help them.
Homeowners with land can create extensive pollinator garden spaces. A city dweller with a balcony can plant for bees by using urns, bins, buckets, and flowerpots filled with pollinator friendly flowering plants.
Community plantings can also be arranged in many places, whether they are in parks, along roadsides, in medians, or on government building rooftops.
Here are some tips to lure bees to your garden oasis, where they can thrive as they find nourishment in your space:
DIVERSITY OF BLOOMS: a variety of annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees that have varying flowering times. This extends the length of time pollinators will be able to forage in your garden.
CHOOSE NATIVE PLANTS: these plants are a necessary food source for the native insects that evolved alongside them over time. Picnanthemum is a mountain mint, and a native plant.
PROVIDE FRESH WATER: a birdbath works, or a bowl of rocks, cork, and twigs with water in it.
There are many species of goldenrod, like Solidago rugose “fireworks” and it is a great nectar source for native bees and migrating monarchs in the fall. Agastache is also extremely popular with native bees.
When it comes to trees, oaks support over 500 types of pollinators. Blooming in spring, the oak tree is a food and nesting source for wildlife like bees, birds, and squirrels. Some native oak trees can grow to 120 feet tall. Flowering trees, like redbuds, support bees. The redbud blooms in April and grows to about 25 feet.
Create flowering shrub borders as part of your pollinator garden by including elderberries (Sambucus), viburnums, spicebush, and shrub dogwoods. These native shrubs make a fine border or in a garden as the backdrop to perennials will be a spectacular show.
Instead of planting a “pretty” garden how about making it both pretty and purposeful. The manicured look was fine up to now, but these times call for a return to a ‘wilder’ landscape. Your garden is not set up to be merely pleasing to the eye, it is a vital food source habitat for local insects.
Please, please, always think of the bees! Put them first when considering how to plan and plant your garden.
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